Home swap scheme to help tenants move
Social tenants in England will be able to swap their homes with tenants in other parts of the country, under plans announced today.
Housing minister Grant Shapps has set out details of a ‘freedom pass’ that will allow tenants to register on a National Home Swap Database if they want to move home.
The initiative is designed to make it easier for tenants to move to find work without having to leave social housing. The government also hopes it will encourage some tenants to move out of large family homes they no longer need, freeing these up for families who are living in overcrowded accommodation.
It said there are 230,000 overcrowded social homes, and 430,000 where households could easily downsize.
Mr Shapps said: ‘Social housing should provide more than a roof over people’s heads - it should lift them out of poverty, and free them to take chances to improve the quality of their own lives.
‘Instead, many tenants are left trapped in their own homes, while councils and housing associations turn their attention to record waiting lists.
‘This cannot continue - as we work to tackle the record budget deficit we must ensure vulnerable people benefit from, but don’t become trapped by, the safety net that social housing provides.
‘That’s why I’m putting tenants in the driving seat, with a new opportunity to see people like them looking to exchange social homes not just in their area but across the country, through a new National Home Swap Scheme.’
Mr Shapps has also announced two London boroughs, Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham will pilot a ‘right to move’ scheme. Under this some tenants will be able to ask their landlords to find them a home in the area where they want to live.
Mr Shapps said that unless there is progress on helping tenants to move he will take further action, including introducing legislation to back the ‘right to move’.
The National Housing Federation has published a report, commissioned by Mr Shapps, on improving social housing mobility. It found many tenants do not apply for a housing transfer because they believe they will not be re-housed, and they see mutual exchange as the only realistic option for existing tenants who want to move but do not meet a priority need category for social housing.
Mutual exchange service Homeswapper has carried out a survey analysing its member’s views on existing home transfer schemes. It found nine in 10 families looking to move have no faith in current schemes.
One in 10 said they wanted to move to find work, and 25 per cent wanted to move between 10 and 100 plus miles from their current home.